The Police Service of Northern Ireland (PSNI) has said dissident republicans are making a “concerted effort” to kill its officers.
A bomb discovered in a parked vehicle in the Creggan area of Derry on Monday was to be used to attack a patrol, detectives said.
Police believe the New IRA was responsible.
“The bomb would have killed or maimed anyone near it when it detonated,” PSNI Assistant Chief Constable Mark Hamilton said.
The bomb - described by police as a command wire-initiated improvised explosive device - was found in a parked car.
It was discovered during searches in the Creggan Heights area of the city on Monday.
More than 40 petrol bombs were thrown at police Land Rovers during the operation, as well as other missiles, watched by a crowd of up to 100 people who had gathered in the area.
ACC Hamilton said that police believe “at least two young people sustained burn injuries when they tried to use petrol bombs to attack the police cordon”. No police officers were injured.
A number of homes were evacuated during the operation, but residents have now returned.
ACC Hamilton said that the “clear intention” of the New IRA was “to murder community police officers”, but that it was also clear the organisation had “a total disregard for the lives of everyone living in Creggan.
“By bringing a viable bomb into the community they have again proved that have no regard for the lives of anyone living in Creggan,” he said.
“Once again they exploited some of the young people in the community to attack police and have brought disruption and misery to families,” he said.
The SDLP leader Column Eastwood said that the “brutal and sustained attack” that police officers came under was “disgusting”.
“Young people in this community are being manipulated and are risking their futures as a result.
“People in this community will not be held to ransom by those who want to hold us all back,” he said.
Sinn Féin MLA Karen Mullan said the security alert had caused “significant disruption” in the area.
“There is absolutely no justification for the actions which serve no purpose other than to put people at risk of serious harm and make the situation worse for local residents trying to get on with their lives,” she said.
On Saturday, a New IRA mortar bomb was found by a member of the public in Strabane , Co Tyrone. The police believe it was intended to be fired into the town’s police station.
A 33-year-old man arrested in connection with Saturday’s incident has been released after questioning.
The New IRA was also responsible for the murder of journalist Lyra McKee in the Creggan area of Derry in April.
The PSNI has said officers will remain in Creggan on Tuesday to carry out further investigations.
“A full terrorist investigation has been commenced and we would ask anyone with any information about this bomb or the disorder that occurred to contact police in Strand Road,” ACC Hamilton said.